Standing proudly in a little valley between the Caelian, Esquiline and Palatine Hills of Rome; the Colosseum has been an iconic symbol of Rome ever since its construction was completed in AD 80. What was once an arena for spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts and gladiator bouts to death, the Colosseum is now the most visited attraction in Rome.
One of the exclusive access zones in the Colosseum is the Underground, a space below the arena floor where gladiators would wait to be hoisted onto the floor. In this guide, we will look at how visitors to Rome can access the Underground Colosseum Tours when visiting the amphitheatre. Colosseum Underground tours and tickets have only recently been made available to public, offering you a chance to visit some of the lesser-explored areas of this Roman icon.
Quick Jumplinks to Navigate the Guide
- Understanding the Colosseum Architecture
- How To Book Colosseum Underground Tours & Tickets
- Colosseum Underground Tour Deconstructed
- Is the Colosseum Underground Tour Worth it?
- Know Before You Go For The Colosseum Underground Tours
- Colosseum Underground Tours - Practical Information
- Other Colosseum Tours & Tickets
Understanding the Colosseum Architecture
The Colosseum is an elliptical amphitheatre. The building stands on two steps, above which are three floors of arcades and an additional fourth story with rectangular windows. These levels would have once been occupied by 50,000-80,000 Romans, cheering on the Colosseum acts. The main arena floor in the center of the Colosseum is where all the action took place. Under this arena floor lie the Colosseum Underground, or the Colosseum Hypogeum.
Until a few years ago, visitors could only visit the lower floors and the Arena. Only recently have the Underground and the upper levels (Belvedere levels) opened to public.
How To Book Colosseum Underground Tours & Tickets
One can access the Colosseum Underground either by booking a guided tour or by booking a spot with one of the few indepedent tour agencies who have the right to take you inside. Either way, you cannot gallivant in unaccompanied. Moreover, to gain access to the Colosseum Underground, you are required to purchase 2 different tickets - a standard ticket and a tour ticket. These tours have been designed to offer the best Colosseum experience, with access to the Colosseum Underground both at day and night.
Each Colosseum Underground Tour allows only 25 people in a slot and there only are limited tours each day. In order to secure a spot at a desired time, it is recommended to book Colosseum Underground Tickets online.
Colosseum Underground Tour Deconstructed
Spread over two subterranean levels; the Colosseum Underground is a network of rooms, mechanical devices, animals pens and tunnels to neighbouring buildings that ran the industry that supported the Colosseum and its activities. The 32 animal pens housed a variety of animals, mostly ferocious and hungry, and were led to the arena floor using ropes and pulleys. There were 36 trapdoors on the arena floor out of which the animals could be hosted. Other occupants of the Underground were gladiators waiting to fight, criminals waiting to be punished, and a gang of slaves who ran the entire machinery.
The Arena Floor
The Colosseum Underground Tour begins from the Colosseum Arena Floor, also known as The Stage. This Stage offers a unique vantage point of the Colosseum, a view like no place else. This is a newly built area as the original arena floor was dismantled years ago, but entering through the Gate of Death and watching the massive ruins from here is a great start. While you may never be able to truly imagine what exactly went down in here, try imagining the people, the excitement, the noise and the fear that rippled through these walls centuries ago. Goosebumps rest assured!
The Basement of the Colosseum
This is where all the action took place before the performances. In this elaborate underground network of tunnels, cages, and holding rooms is where the gladiators and animals were kept in anticipation of their “performances”. Since the original arena floor was destroyed, most of the basement is entirely exposed to natural elements, hence leading to corrosion. However, a good portion is still preserved and and relatively protected and the tours take through these areas. The lifts that took the animals and gladiators up may seem in surprisingly good shape, however they have been reconstructed to give visitors a feel of how it actually was down here.
The Third Ring
The Third Ring is located at the top of the amphitheatre and this upper level provides a fabulous view of the Colosseum as well as great views of the nearby ruins of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. This is the final stop on the Colosseum Underground Tour and happens to be the maximum one can get 'underground' at the Colosseum.
Is the Colosseum Underground Tour Worth It?
And the million dollar question that strikes before buying your tickets. Is the Colosseum Underground Tour worth it? Well, to be honest, we cannot make that call for you. However, what we know with conviction is that the Colosseum Underground Tour is the real deal of the whole Colosseum.
It is what gives you an essence of what exactly the gladiators would have felt in those dungeons; waiting, worrying, sweating in those crammed tunnels. Walking through the parts that the Colosseum Underground Tour takes you through gives a sense of how elaborate the whole operation was, how the combat that took place in the Roman Colosseums were not just bare-bones fighting. These tours tell you the extent to which Romans went for entertainment and theatre. For this hard-hitting truth, the Colosseum Underground Tours are worth every penny. Not to forget, the bragging rights and kitty of stories you'll take back home!
Know Before You Go For The Colosseum Underground Tours
- For safety reasons the Colosseum can only accommodate up to 3,000 people at once. If there’s an increased demand on any particular day, expect delay in access to the site. (Another reason to pre-book your tickets online and secure your spot.)
- All visitors and their belongings will be screened at the security checkpost outside the Colosseum.
- It is strictly forbidden to enter with backpacks, handbags and luggage. There is no storage facility at any of the three sites. If you come with a bag that is too large you will be denied entry.
- Even if you opt for a guided tour, you will be given a headset in order to hear your guide clearly. Hold onto that because you will surely need it!
- Children under the age of 18 gain free entry into the Colosseum, and those under 12 years do not need a ticket for guided tours either. However, those under 18 have discounted tickets for guided tours, but make sure you book these on the spot with a relevant id proof.
Learn all about Colosseum at night and how to get exclusive access to see the Colosseum under the stars.
Colosseum Underground Tours - Practical Information
Colosseum Opening Hours
The Colosseum is open from Monday to Friday between 10:30 AM to 04:30 PM, with final admission at 03:30 PM.
Getting to the Colosseum
Seeing that the Colosseum is an uber popular tourist destination, there are plenty of ways you can reach the attraction. While you can always opt for a cab from wherever you’re staying, expect to pay a pretty penny. Cab fares are not cheap and it’s common for tourists to get overcharged. Instead, checkout some of the (cheap) public transport options below that’ll get you to the Colosseum easily and safely.
Line 75, 81, 673, 175, 204
Line B “Colosseo”
The metro runs from 5:30 AM to 11:30 PM, Sunday to Thursday, and until 1:30 AM on Friday and Saturday.
If you have reached the Termini train station, the main railway station of Rome, there are two ways you can reach the Colosseum:
1. Via Metro
If you’re short on time, taking the metro from Termini train station would be your best bet. When you disembark the train, follow the white-on-red M signs towards the metro station. Once there, you'll find ticket vending machines. Get your tickets, proceed to the fare gates, insert your ticket and.you’re good to go. Be sure to take the correct line (line B with blue signs) in the right direction (southwards towards Laurentina). The Colosseum is only two stops away. When you exit the station, you will see the monument directly across the street.
2. Via Foot
If you’re in the mood for a leisurely hike through the charming lanes of Rome, you can walk from the train station to the Colosseum. The average walking time is 30 minutes, so only go for this option if you have ample time on hand.
Learn all about Colosseum entrances and which entrance you should choose your Colosseum Underground Tour.
Other Colosseum Tours
Here's a glimpse of the top recommended Colosseum tickets:
Other top Experiences in Rome
While the Colosseum is a must-see in Italy, here are some other attractions that are now open to the public that cannot be missed! Check out more Rome attractions. Don't forget to read our all-inclusive Rome Travel Guide packed with itineraries, local recommendations, hotels, restaurants, offbeat gems in Rome & more.